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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Biden Administration comes to Asia with a new 'economic framework'

President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol
Evan Vucci/AP
President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol deliver remarks as they visit the Samsung Electronics Pyeongtaek campus, Friday, May 20, 2022, in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Biden was in South Korea on Friday starting his first trip to Asia as president. He’ll also travel to Japan and meet with other members of the “Quad” — leaders of Australia, India and Japan. One topic will be a new regional economic plan.

A little more than six years ago, the United States signed a trade and investment deal with 11 countries touching the Pacific Ocean from Asia to the Americas.

It was called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP, with countries from Australia and Japan to Singapore and Vietnam — plus Mexico, Canada, Peru and others.

China was pointedly not part of the deal.

When President Donald Trump took office in 2017, one of his first actions was to withdraw from the agreement.

The next year, all the other countries signed a slightly adjusted version of that deal without the United States.

Now the Biden Administration is proposing the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

The broad outlines sound potentially attractive for its target audience — many of the same countries who previously signed up for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Once again, China is not invited — and that’s the main point.

So far, administration officials are highlighting issues such as supply chain security and resilience, clean energy — and digital trade.

But there’s less specific information so far when it comes to trade details like market access.

The concept will no doubt get a polite reception in the Indo-Pacific — where it goes will largely depend on those details.

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